Cullen: Rating the NHL intangible leaders

Scott Cullen
4/16/2011 6:34:23 PM
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When it comes to doing the little things to win a hockey game it's difficult, if not impossible, to come up with a definitive measure of a player's contribution.

Even so, that doesn't stop me from trying to come up with some value to help acknowledge the efforts of players beyond goals, assists and plus-minus.

There is a certain irony to using statistics to generate an "intangible" value for a player, because counting hits, blocked shots, giveaways, takeaways, penalty differential and faceoffs won and lost obviously is a tangible exercise.

The intention behind forming such a ranking is not so much caught up in the specifics of the rankings as much as it is to get an indication which players are contributing in the many of the real-time stats.

In generating these rankings, the weighting is as follows: .5 x (Hits/Game) + 1.5 x (Blocked Shots/Game) + 2.5 x (Takeaways-Giveaways/Game) + 1.5 x (Penalty Differential/Game) + .1 x (Faceoffs Won-Lost/Game), with a little tweak and that is that I've adjusted the rankings of the Rangers and Islanders because they had a ridiculous disproportion of players ranked in the Top 100 (such is the peril of using real-time stats which are subject to recording bias).  Penalty differential numbers come from

The weighting I've applied is entirely subjective, because I don't have something to tell me that a blocked shot is worth the same as three hits, but it also seems fair to value blocked shots more than hits because they affect an actual scoring opportunity.

They still have a dozen players in the Top 100 after the adjustment, but it's a more fair represenation than the 17 that were on the first incarnation of this list.

So, the results are more approximate than anything, but when dealing with intangibles it seems like a reasonable approximation when the top five forwards in the rankings include Ryan Callahan, T.J. Oshie, Ryan Kesler, Jonathan Toews and Manny Malhotra -- those are guys that hockey fans would expect to do the little things to help their teams.

At the lower end of the spectrum, there is no inference that a player having a low "intangibles" rating is not a good player, only that the player likely needs to be productive in the more traditional stats.

The Sedins notoriously tend to have low ratings in this measure, but that doesn't mean they're not great. It means that they don't hit a lot or block a bunch of shots, in part because they have the puck so much, and their role is to put up goals and assists, which they do very well.

Here are the 2010-2011 intangibles leaders and, below, the trailers (minimum 40 games played):

Rank Player Team Position Intangibles Rating
1. Greg Zanon Minnesota D 4.53
2. Ryan Callahan N.Y. Rangers RW 4.20
3. Douglas Murray San Jose D 4.08
4. Ryan Kesler Vancouver C 4.00
5. T. J. Oshie St. Louis RW 3.88
6. Andrew MacDonald N.Y. Islanders D 3.88
7. Kimmo Timonen Philadelphia D 3.85
8. Rostislav Klesla Phoenix D 3.85
9. Dan Girardi N.Y. Rangers D 3.84
10. Barret Jackman St. Louis D 3.74
11. Mark Giordano Calgary D 3.70
12. Jan Hejda Columbus D 3.68
13. Mike Weaver Florida D 3.65
14. Jonathan Toews Chicago C 3.61
15. Dennis Seidenberg Boston D 3.60
16. Ryan O'Byrne Colorado D 3.60
17. John-Michael Liles Colorado D 3.47
18. Shea Weber Nashville D 3.47
19. Stephane Robidas Dallas D 3.43
20. Milan Jurcina N.Y. Islanders D 3.38
21. Brooks Orpik Pittsburgh D 3.35
22. Adam McQuaid Boston D 3.32
23. Andrej Meszaros Philadelphia D 3.31
24. Mark Stuart Atlanta D 3.26
25. Dion Phaneuf Toronto D 3.26
26. Mark Fistric Dallas D 3.25
27. Alexander Edler Vancouver D 3.24
28. Kris Russell Columbus D 3.23
29. Toni Lydman Anaheim D 3.21
30. Johnny Oduya Atlanta D 3.20
31. Andreas Lilja Anaheim D 3.18
32. Karlis Skrastins Dallas D 3.18
33. Manny Malhotra Vancouver C 3.17
34. Jack Hillen N.Y. Islanders D 3.16
35. Anton Volchenkov New Jersey D 3.15
36. Jamie Benn Dallas LW 3.14
37. Johnny Boychuk Boston D 3.14
38. Ryan Wilson Colorado D 3.13
39. Ian White San Jose D 3.12
40. Patrick Dwyer Carolina RW 3.12
41. Paul Martin Pittsburgh D 3.12
42. Chris Thorburn Atlanta RW 3.11
43. Erik Cole Carolina RW 3.09
44. Jerred Smithson Nashville RW 3.08
45. Andy Greene New Jersey D 3.08
46. Tim Gleason Carolina D 3.07
47. Kevin Bieksa Vancouver D 3.06
48. Chris Pronger Philadelphia D 3.06
49. Dan Hamhuis Vancouver D 3.05
50. Nate Thompson Tampa Bay RW 3.04
51. Michal Rozsival Phoenix D 3.01
52. Kevin Klein Nashville D 2.99
53. Brent Sopel Montreal D 2.99
54. Pavel Datsyuk Detroit C 2.97
55. Roman Hamrlik Montreal D 2.97
56. Kevin Shattenkirk St. Louis D 2.92
57. R.J. Umberger Columbus LW 2.91
58. Matt Martin N.Y. Islanders LW 2.90
59. Alex Pietrangelo St. Louis D 2.90
60. Derek MacKenzie Columbus C 2.87
61. Ryan McDonagh N.Y. Rangers D 2.86
62. Roman Polak St. Louis D 2.83
63. Ryan O'Reilly Colorado C 2.83
64. Marc Methot Columbus D 2.83
65. Luke Schenn Toronto D 2.83
66. Steve Eminger N.Y. Rangers D 2.82
67. Dustin Byfuglien Atlanta D 2.81
68. Ron Hainsey Atlanta D 2.81
69. Marc Staal N.Y. Rangers D 2.81
70. Brian Boyle N.Y. Rangers C 2.80
71. Bryan Little Atlanta C 2.80
72. Tobias Enstrom Atlanta D 2.79
73. Joni Pitkanen Carolina D 2.79
74. Mike Green Washington D 2.79
75. Mattias Ohlund Tampa Bay D 2.78
76. Marty Reasoner Florida C 2.78
77. Brett Clark Tampa Bay D 2.77
78. Robyn Regehr Calgary D 2.77
79. Tuomo Ruutu Carolina C 2.76
80. Shaone Morrisonn Buffalo D 2.76
81. Brent Seabrook Chicago D 2.76
82. Nicklas Backstrom Washington C 2.75
83. Chris Higgins Vancouver LW 2.74
84. Braydon Coburn Philadelphia D 2.73
85. Erik Johnson Colorado D 2.73
86. Mike Weber Buffalo D 2.72
87. Cal Clutterbuck Minnesota RW 2.72
88. Keith Ballard Vancouver D 2.71
89. John Carlson Washington D 2.71
90. Derek Dorsett Columbus RW 2.71
91. Francis Bouillon Nashville D 2.69
92. Derek Morris Phoenix D 2.68
93. Niklas Hjalmarsson Chicago D 2.68
94. Luca Sbisa Anaheim D 2.67
95. Jason Garrison Florida D 2.66
96. Troy Brouwer Chicago RW 2.66
97. Colby Armstrong Toronto RW 2.65
98. Travis Hamonic N.Y. Islanders D 2.63
99. Clayton Stoner Minnesota D 2.63
100. Radek Martinek N.Y. Islanders D 2.62

Rank Player Team Position Intangibles Rating
547. Niklas Hagman Calgary LW 0.23
548. Colton Orr Toronto RW 0.22
549. Colin Wilson Nashville C 0.21
550. Patrick Marleau San Jose LW 0.20
551. Kevin Westgarth Los Angeles RW 0.18
552. Ryan Smyth Los Angeles LW 0.15
553. Ales Hemsky Edmonton RW 0.14
554. Teemu Selanne Anaheim RW 0.08
555. Sergei Kostitsyn Nashville LW 0.07
556. Krys Barch Dallas RW 0.06
557. Daniel Sedin Vancouver LW -0.08
558. Steve Sullivan Nashville LW -0.09
559. Dany Heatley San Jose RW -0.12
560. Brad Richards Dallas C -0.18
561. Brian Rafalski Detroit D -0.21
562. Mattias Tedenby New Jersey LW -0.23
563. Justin Williams Los Angeles RW -0.36
564. Jonathan Ericsson Detroit D -0.36
565. Alex Kovalev Pittsburgh RW -0.80
566. Ilya Kovalchuk New Jersey LW -1.32

Scott Cullen can be reached at and followed on Twitter at  For more, check out TSN Fantasy Sports on Facebook.

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